World View

A New Life- Part 2

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When God revolutionizes your life, it’s not something to keep to yourself – this new life is meant to be shared! The people in our world who are spiritually lost need to hear the gospel and encounter the Holy Spirit, but they’ll never accept a Christianity that’s contradicted by your lifestyle.

1. Read

John 6:44 [NLT] “…For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me…”

There’s a portion of coming to faith that’s totally up to the Holy Spirit. Unless people have a spiritual encounter with God, they won’t be able to accept His salvation. We can’t conjure up a “God-experience” – that’s between God and each person.

Romans 10:17 [ESV]“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

There’s also a portion of coming to faith that requires encountering God’s word. Church is a great place for this, but it’s not the only place. The Bible is more readily available than it has ever been, but spiritually lost people need a reason to look to it for help.

2. Challenge

1 Peter 2:12 [NLT] “Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.”

The final piece of the puzzle is up to you! Your day-to-day, real-world application of God’s character will either point people toward faith, or away from it. If you’ve been given new life in Christ, let it shine! 

  • Think of a few gaps between God’s standard for living and the norms that our culture has drifted to. Where do you fall on that spectrum? How could your obedience to God in those areas point people to Him? How could your disobedience sour people on the gospel?
  • Think of a spiritually lost friend or family member: If you never mentioned church, prayer or reading the Bible to them, would they know (or assume) you’re a Christian? What would be their biggest clues? What things from your life might make them second-guess their assumption?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank God for drawing you to Himself, for giving you access to the Bible, and for placing Christians around you to give you an example of a changed life. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you on track this week, so that your life points people toward Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Don’t Miss the Boat!

1. Power Verse

Isaiah 25:4 “O Lord, you are a refuge from the storm.”

What’s Up: “Through The Rain And Through The Storm, God Will Keep Me Safe And Warm!”

This week, we continue the series called, “NOAH: Surviving The Storms Of Life.” In this lesson, we learn what our response should be when God gets us through the storms of life.

2. Activity

(Set Up: Find age appropriate pictures of the aftermath of storms that your child might have heard of before. For example, Hurricane Katrina, a tornado, or local storm, etc.)

Show your child the pictures of the damages of the storm and talk with them about its impact.

  • How do you think you would have felt if you’d been in the storm?
  • How do you think the people felt after the storm was over?

3. Discussion

During our lives, we’ll go through storms, too. Maybe not like this storm, but there will be times when we face tough situations and problems that may seem impossible. God promises to be with us during these times, though, and He’s the one who gives us the strength to survive.

  • What should we do when we have made it through the storms of life?
  • God is the one who helps us through our storms. When we have made it through, we should praise Him and celebrate what He has done in our lives.

4. Prayer Focus

Lead your child in a time of prayer and worship. Encourage them to worship if they are in a storm or if they aren’t in a storm. Thank God together for what He has done and what He will do in your lives.

A New Life

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New life in Christ is something we celebrate, but what effects should that change have in our day to day life? We can take a few cues from Jesus’ example.

1. Read

Luke 6:12 [ESV] “…he (Jesus) went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.”

A new life is a spiritual one, one that keeps us in communion with God. Jesus knew His time on earth was limited, but He didn’t let that sense of urgency keep Him from spending the time He needed to in prayer.

  • Prayer takes time. What’s the biggest competition for your prayer time?

  • What are some ways you could help (or force) yourself to take more time for prayer and worship?

2. Challenge

Luke 6:13 [ESV] “And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles…”

A new life is a relational one. The God-life was never meant to be done alone. Jesus recruited the twelve not only to help and support Him, but so that He could invest in them and prepare them for ministry.

  •  List 3 or 4 aspects of the God-life – things God expects of every believer once they’re saved. Which of these would benefit from being in community with other Christians? Get specific, how would relationships help?

  • What’s one or more ways that God has specifically called you to minister (serve Him by sharing and showing the gospel)? How would your ability to fulfill God’s assignment benefit from being in relationship with others? Be specific, and write it down. Are you really giving God your best if you don’t invest in relationships to gain these benefits?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank God for the new life He’s given you. Commit to using your time and relationships to maximize your effectiveness for Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Don’t Miss the Boat!

1. Power Verse

Genesis 7:5 “And Noah obeyed all that God commanded him.”

What’s Up:  “Stick With God And You Won’t Miss The Boat!”

This week, we continue the series called, “NOAH: Surviving The Storms of Life”. In this lesson, we learn that when we follow God and obey His commands, we will find miracles taking place in our own lives.

2. Read

Genesis 6:9-22  Noah was a godly man. He walked faithfully with God. Noah had three sons. The earth was very sinful in God’s eyes. It was full of people who did mean and harmful things. God saw how sinful the earth had become. All its people were living very sinful lives. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to everyone. They have filled the earth with their harmful acts. I am certainly going to destroy them and the earth. So make yourself an ark out of cypress wood. Cover it with tar inside and out. The ark has to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it. Put a door in one side of the ark. I am going to bring a flood on the earth. It will destroy all life under the sky. But I will make my covenant with you. You will go into the ark. Your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives will enter it with you.  Bring a male and a female of every living thing into the ark. They will be kept alive with you.  Two of every kind of bird will come to you. Two of every kind of animal will also come to you. And so will two of every kind of creature that moves along the ground. All of them will be kept alive with you. Take every kind of food that you will need. Store it away as food for you and them.”  Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

3. Discussion

  • What did God say He was going to send to the earth? Why?
  • Do you think it was hard for Noah to believe a flood was going to happen? 

  • Did he still obey God?

It wasn’t easy for Noah and his family to trust God and believe that there was actually going to be a flood that would destroy the whole Earth. It had never flooded like that before. But despite the difficulty, Noah and his family obeyed. They were saved from the flood and delivered from complete annihilation.

Have you ever felt like God wanted you to do something that was hard? Obeying God can be hard – especially when we are going through a hard time in life. But when we obey, He keeps us safe.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray with your child if they are currently facing a storm in their life. Pray that now and in the future they would find safety in their Comforter and God would provide a miracle.

We are Better Together- Part 2

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You and the church are only healthy and fully-functional when you’re connected to other Christians. We’re better together! The problem is, connection doesn’t happen by default. In order to live up to God’s best for us, we’ve got to make the effort to live a connected life.

1. Read

Hebrews 10:24 [NLT] Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”

Being relationally connected to other Christians takes effort – energy – on your end. Connecting God’s way means finding ways to be a support to others. Don’t just have friends, function as a friend to the people around you. 

  • Think for a few minutes – what are ways people in the church motivate each other to live the God-life better? What are some ways you’ve benefited from the influence of other Christians?

  • Who are the people you’re connected to relationally in the church? What are some ways the Holy Spirit could use you to motivate them to acts of love and good works?

2. Challenge

Hebrews 10:25 [NLT] “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Connecting to people requires an intentional effort – there will always be other ways to spend your time and energy, and those other things are constantly vying for your attention. If you want to feel connected to people in the church, you’re going to need to make it a priority.

  • What are some otherwise-good things that can push connection points (like Life Groups, Serving Teams, eating out with friends, etc) down on your priority list?

  • What are some things that you might have to do less, or drop altogether, to make space for connecting to people?

  • What are some ways that those competing activities could be modified to become relationship-building, church-people-connecting activities?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank God for the support and encouragement He brings to you through individuals in the church. Be specific – use their names! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you prioritize connection so you can have that kind of positive impact on others.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Living for God in a Wicked World

1. Power Verse

Hosea 14:9 “The paths of the LORD are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them.”

What’s Up: “I’m Gonna Walk With God Every Day, Living Righteous Is The Only Way!”

This week, we start a brand new series called, “NOAH: Surviving The Storms Of Life”. In this series, we will look at one of the most famous guys in the Bible – Noah! In this lesson, we learn how we can live a life that stands out for God just like Noah.

2. Activity

Set Up: Gather several of the same object and one object that is different. For example: several candies of the same color and one of a different color; several marshmallows and one chocolate chip.

Allow your children to observe the objects.

  • What do you notice about these things?
  • How could you tell one was different? (i.e. it looked different, it felt different, etc.)

3. Discussion

As Christians, we are supposed to be like the one object. In the world, there is a lot of evil, a lot of people doing the wrong thing. God wants us to be different than everyone else in the world. He wants us to stand out and choose to do what’s right. When we do, others can quickly tell there is a difference in us just like you were able to quickly tell the difference in these objects.

If we are going to live a life that is different, we have to stay close to God. We can stay close to God by praying, reading the Bible, and worshipping. By doing these things, we can live for Him in a sinful world.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray with your children that God will help them to live their lives so others will see a difference in them. Talk about ways that your family already spends time with God and/or discuss ways your family can make it a new priority.

Lenses- Part 3

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

All of us were born with a “me” – shaped lens, a world view where the our values and decisions are based on our physical urges, desires, and what benefits us. When we come to God, we get access to a new way of looking at things – a “God” – lens, where our values and decisions are subjected to His ways and His plans. The trouble is, the “me” lens doesn’t just go quietly…

1. Discussion 

Romans 8:6-7 [NLT]  “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.”

The “me” lens, our default sinful-nature view, will always push for dominance. Through the Spirit’s power, we have to choose God’s view in every situation in life.

Q. What areas do you think people in today’s culture have the hardest time choosing God’s lens in?

Q. What area(s) do you have the hardest time choosing God’s lens in?

2. Challenge

Romans 6:1-2 [NLT]  “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

Serving God is a constant series of choices to use His lens instead of ours. Every new topic is a new battleground, but the longer we fight, the better we get at choosing God’s way.

Q. What’s an area that used to be a me vs. God lens struggle for you, but has improved?

Q. What’s an area that’s still a contested battle? God doesn’t expect perfection, but He does expect persistence. Don’t give up! Keep fighting to use God’s perspective!

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for redeeming your Spirit and giving you access to a better way to see the world. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the strength to choose His way in every situation in life.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Helping Others

1. Power Verse

Psalms 82:3-4  “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

What’s Up: “God wants us to share His love, and help others in every way we can!”

In this week’s lesson we learned that God loved us so much, that He gave His son Jesus to die for us.  He wants us to do everything we can to share His love all around the world.  One of the ways we can do that is by giving to BGMC, (Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge.)

2. Discussion

Q. In what ways has God blessed our family?

Q. What are some ways that we can share the things He has given us?

Q. Why is it important that we try to help others?

God has blessed us with many things, like a great church, a wonderful family, a home, food, and so much more.  We have a lot of friends and family that could help us out if we needed something. He expects us to help boys, girls, and families that don’t have friends to help out.  

3. Challenge

The kids at our church are working with BGMC to help boys and girls at a school in Thailand.  

Q. What can you tell me about these kids and their school?

Q. What are 3 things that we can do together this week, to help meet our kids church missions giving goal?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for the children at the Shang Rai Christian School in the mountains of Thailand.  Ask God to keep them safe and that the missionaries and teachers would be a great blessing to them.  Pray that our kids would be excited about giving to missions, and God would give them creative and fun ideas to meet our BGMC goal to pay for all the kids to attend the school for one year.

Lenses- Part 2

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Everyone views life through a set of lenses – priorities, values, and expectations that help them make sense of the world around them. Those lenses filter what light (truth) comes in… but for those who are Christians, the lens has just as much of an impact in the other direction.

1. Discussion

The lens you use for life affects the way God’s light shines through you. 

2 Corinthians 3:17 [NLT] “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.”

The lens you view life through filters not only your beliefs, but also your actions, words, and attitudes. As God’s representatives to our world, it’s up to us to show those who are lost – by our behavior – what it means to be a Christian. We should be, as best we can, an accurate representation of what God’s life change looks like in a person.

Q. When you think about reflecting the “glory of the Lord,” what types of imagery comes to your mind? Does it seem like an everyday-life thing, or a mystic, other-worldly thing?

Q. When you consider the definition of “glory” – renown, honor, magnificence, beauty – does that change how “reflecting God’s glory” looks in your mind? How so?

2. Challenge

It’s the work of the Holy Spirit to calibrate your lens to reflect God’s glory properly.

2 Corinthians 3:18 [NLT] “And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”

Q. If someone from the outside commented on your life from 5 years ago versus today, what differences in words, actions, and attitudes would they see?

Q. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the level of contrast between how you live your life (as a Christian) versus how people who don’t serve God live?

Q. What could you do this week to allow the Holy Spirit to work on your lens?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for allowing you to see His glory and to know Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep shaping the lens you see life through so you can be a good reflection for people who are spiritually lost to see.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

How to Make Your Life Count

1. Power Verse

Philippians 2:13 “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

What’s Up: “God Can Use Me To Change The World!”

This week, we conclude our series called, “You Only Live Once” or “YOLO.” We’ve been learning some important lessons about making our lives count! Since we only live once, we need to make sure we do our very best to honor God with our lives and remain faithful to Him.

2. Discussion

Q. What do you think it means to make a difference in the world?

Q. Do you feel like you’re currently making a big difference in the world?

Sometimes it can be difficult to imagine yourself making a massive difference for the Kingdom of God. Changing the world or making a huge impact can seem pretty intimidating!

This week, we learned how Esther made a difference with her life. She really made her life count! 

We learned that we can make a difference too, if we take the right steps.

3. Challenge

Q. What have you done to live differently than the rest of the world?

Q. What can you do in order to live differently than the rest of the world?

Q. How often do you pray and seek God’s direction for your life?

Q. What can you do to make a big difference for the Kingdom of God? Will you be able to do it on your own? What steps should you take to accomplish this? 

We can really learn from Esther’s example to live different than the rest of the world, pray and seek God’s direction, and always remember just ONE person plus God can make a huge difference!

4. Prayer Focus

Pray that your children will do everything they can to make their lives count and make a difference! Pray they will set themselves apart from this world and choose to seek and obey God’s direction in their lives.

Lenses- Part 1

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Everybody looks at life through a lens – a set of preconceptions about what’s valuable, what motivates actions, what is versus what should be. That lens makes a huge difference in our lives – especially when it comes to how we view God.

1. Discussion

Luke 11:34-35 [NLT] “When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is unhealthy, your body is filled with darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.”

The lens we view life through can bring God’s truth… or it can fool us into believing a lie. Too many people in our world have the wrong outlook on life because their lens is filtering things in a negative way.

Q. What sorts of factors might affect the way someone looks at life? (i.e. upbringing, hurts & failures, etc.)

Q. What factors in your past (or present) do you think have the most influence on the way you look at life? that impact your quality of life? What other areas in your life might improve?

2. Challenge

Many people who heard Jesus’ teaching couldn’t accept Him as the Messiah (the promised savior) because their filters were set on a military leader who would liberate the Jews from Roman occupancy. As a result, they were blind to the truth that could save them. In the same way, people today have skewed filters for what kind of savior Jesus is supposed to be. If we want to be able to hear and accept the truth, we need to have the right lens. The one that comes from God’s source of truth- the Bible.

Q. What are some preconceptions people have about Jesus that might not be accurate?

Q. How do you think those misconceptions might keep someone from being saved or living a healthy spiritual life?

Q. What can you do to make sure your own lens is allowing you to see Jesus accurately?

 

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for allowing you to understand and accept the good news of Jesus, our Messiah. Ask the Holy Spirit to continually shape your lens by the truth of the Bible, so you can see life the way that He wants you to see it.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Lessons From Esther

1. Power Verse

John 14:15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.”

What’s Up: “I’ll Trust God & I Will Obey!”

2. Discussion

This week, we continue our series called, “You Only Live Once” or “YOLO.” We’re learning some important lessons about making our lives count! Since we only live once, we need to make sure we do our very best to honor God with our life and remain faithful to Him.

Q. What do you think the word “trust” means?

Q. Have you ever been in a situation where it was hard to trust someone?

Q. Have you ever been in a situation where it was hard to trust God?

This week we learned about Esther. She found herself in a pretty tough situation. When Mordecai told her of Haman’s plan to destroy the Jews, she could have thought only about herself and played it safe. She could have ignored Mordecai’s request and never told the King how evil Haman was. However, Esther made the tough choice to trust God and obey Him. 

3. Challenge

Queen Esther spoke up and, as a result, the Jews were saved. She was brought into the kingdom for that special moment, & she didn’t waste it.

Q. In the situation you described earlier, did you end up trusting God?

Q. What did you do? How did it turn out?

Q. What can we do to strengthen our ability to trust God?

Q.  What can we do to make sure we’re ready and able to “seize our moment” when the time comes?

If we will trust God, obey Him, and seize our moment – God will bless us big-time!

 

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your children to trust God and look for their “moment.” Pray for them if they are struggling to obey God’s commands. Remind them that blessing follows obedience. God is good. We can trust Him.

Who’s Report Will You Believe?

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I’m not sure how many of you frequent Facebook but I would guess that many of you do.  One of the things that most often frustrates me about the postings there are the ones that sound something like…. “Ten reasons why youth are leaving your church”, or “Why everybody hates church music,” or “64 reasons American Churches are Dying.”  I just don’t get it!  First, what makes the people who write these things experts on the church in America, and how were they able to sample a sufficient number of churches to make such all-inclusive remarks?  No one has ever visited our church to assess its health and I’ve never gotten a call asking me about how our youth or music ministry is going.

In truth, this feels more like an attempt to shape the narrative in our country in regard to the church.  Surely we’ve learned by now that one of the ploys of those opposed to a thing is to simply begin reporting on it’s demise and before long people believe it’s dead and actual death soon follows.  My personal experience today is that the truth is far from these reports.

I’ve got many pastor friends that are reporting great advancement of their churches.  Here at Abundant Life we are experiencing growth and advancement across the board and we are expecting more and more.  Walls that have kept people apart for generations are being torn down and in almost every area of ministry we are experiencing an abundance of life!  You can feel that what historically has been called revival is coming to the river bend and young and old alike are drawing closer and closer to God.  We’re coming off of one of our greatest financial years in the history of the church and we are touching not only our region but all over the world!

In short… Who’s report will you believe?  Those who would report the church’s demise are simply not telling the truth or any semblance of the truth.  God is growing his church and just as always… Nothing will prevail against it!

 

Blessings!